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Sunday, October 25, 2020

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Russia : Rasmussen's statement over the Ukranian aid is "another lie"

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen condemned Russia for sending the unauthorized humanitarian aid convoy into Ukraine on Friday without the involvement of the International Committee of the Red Cross. On Saturday, the Russian foreign ministry called Rasmussen's statement "another lie" , Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.

The Kiev government had called the advance of the Russian trucks into Ukrainian territory on Friday a "direct invasion."

U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes warned Russia to remove the convoy from Ukraine or "face additional costs and consequences" from the United States and its allies.

The controversial Russian aid convoy left Moscow on Aug. 12 with 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid, including baby food, medicine, grain, sugar, sleeping bags and other items, Russia's government-run RIA Novosti reports. The vehicles, covered with white tarps, had been stuck at a border crossing in a dispute between Russia and Ukraine over inspection of the vehicles.

The Russian foreign ministry, in a statement on its website, said Russia took unilateral action to get the convoy moving and accused Ukraine of deliberately delaying the aid. "The Russian side has decided to act," the foreign ministry said.

Meanwhile, NATO officials said Friday that Moscow has sent Russian-manned artillery units into Ukraine in recent days and was using them to shell Ukrainian forces as part of a "major escalation" of Russian involvement in the disputed region.

"Russian artillery support — both cross-border and from within Ukraine — is being employed against the Ukrainian armed forces," Rasmussen said, adding large quantities of advanced weapons, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery had been transferred recently to separatist groups in eastern Ukraine.

"Moreover, NATO is observing an alarming build-up of Russian ground and air forces in the vicinity of Ukraine," Rasmussen said.

Rhodes also condemned the firing of artillery from Russia into Ukraine and a "disturbing movement of Russian artillery and military equipment" into the country.

The warnings come as Ukrainian troops have begun to gain ground against Russian-backed separatists in their battles over the disputed area since April.

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